Post 500: Welcome back to Blackbyrd

In the fall of 2014 I toured a personal finance magazine’s office in downtown DC. I had actually secured an internship there for a summer but turned it down for another, more-substantial offer closer to home. 

(P.S. I’ve now worked at the company I chose over the magazine for nearly seven years.) 

(P.P.S. I knew close to nothing about personal finance, but I suppose I’m a classically trained journalist who could have figured it out.)

During the tour I couldn’t help but think about what my life there could have been like. The bright office in a beautiful building, the shiny tile floors, the official-looking professionals in their smart, tailored suits. Did I make the right decision? Two summers in a row at the same company — really, Emily? Who would I have met?

But the environment and my daydream isn’t what stood out most to me about the visit. It was the woman who would have been my boss, a notable alumna from my alma mater. It wasn’t how she looked, what she wore, or what she did — it was one tiny thing she said that she probably didn’t think anything of, but it has stuck with me for nearly 10 years. 

Twenty-Year-Old Emily: “What do you do in your free time? Do you ever write for yourself?”

Notable Alumna: “Oh gosh, by the time I get home from work, staring at another computer is the last thing I want to do.”

I was shocked. Imagine me, the self-proclaimed poetic genius five years deep into a personal blog and three years into what essentially was a writing degree, discovering that someone who could be a role model didn’t make time to write for herself outside of work.

I couldn’t imagine it because, at that time, not 24 hours could pass without Emily jotting down a new blog post idea; a young woman’s naive belief that what she has to say really really matters. 

Today, I get it. Today my eyes are tired.

But my fingers have been itching for years with blog posts unwritten and prose unprofessed. I need a creative outlet for my brain beyond the little victories I get at work in-between project planning and PowerPoint deck creation.

I’ve said this before, but this time I really mean it: this is the year I’m bringing my creative writing back. I’ve titled this “The Blog Project,” and my goal is to revisit my roots and practice my writing. (Aka I DON’T GIVE A SHIT IF ANYONE READS IT… I think.) I’m reading more than I have since I was a freckled kid lazing away over long stretches of summertime and I’ve written more poetry in the last couple of months than I have in the past four years combined.

So here’s Blackbyrd, a blog started by a 14-year-old in the heat of angst and uncertainty who is now a woman in her late 20s. I’ll be covering topics as a professional millennial plus some just-for-fun musings and projects.

Welcome back.

Crying in front of Plassmann Hall

10518857_824263050926992_6371536501199916685_nMy best friend here at school couldn’t believe it when I told her. Via text message, she whined and begged for me to stay.

“I’ll stay if you can pay for it for me,” I tried to compromise.

…she didn’t fall for that one.

Her response made me feel sick. It made me realize how much I’d miss out on. How much I’d miss my friends. How scary the real world is.

I pondered my predicament every day from the moment I noticed my degree audit’s tapped-out supply of credits. It took seeing a very expensive out-of-pocket cost on my student bill for me to see reason. I’ve always been a sensible person, much to my own chagrin. I knew what I needed to do, though I’d been in an impenetrable state of denial about it for months.

I told my friend Haley, a fellow December graduate, first.

“Congratulations, Emily!” was her response.

Wait… BACK UP, I thought.

I had expected her to tell me to stay, tell me to stick around and enjoy my senior year, tell me she didn’t want to graduate in December, either. But she didn’t.

I hesitantly told one of my roommates.

“I figured you would,” she said, referencing a conversation we’d had over the summer when I had first mentioned the possibility. “I would if I could.”


None of it seemed to faze her.

So I’m done letting it faze me.

I’m done standing in front of Plassmann Hall with tears rolling down my cheeks at 2 a.m. on a Saturday. My life isn’t over. On the contrary, it’s kind of beginning.

After applying online for December graduation and filling out how I want my name to appear on my diploma, I called my mom to tell her. Luckily (I guess), my dad was in the car with her.

They congratulated me. Told me they’re proud of me. Graduating early isn’t the crutch I’d formerly seen it as. If anything, it’s a boost, an advantage.

Then my parents dropped a bomb onto  my life.

A haven for the go, go, goer

But, wait –– didn’t I just write this post?

With one more exam to go, I’m sitting on the edge of my sophomore year. Tomorrow, Dad comes and hauls all of my belongings away, leaving me to brave senior week with my friends. I’m not sad that the year’s over, I’m merely shocked at the speed with which it came and went.

My dorm room shows a year of use. Picture collage on the wall, inspiring quotations to help me get out of bed in the morning, the clutter of a college student who is always go, go, going.

I spent the first weekend here bedridden and unable to stand up after a cross country meet literally knocked me over. From there, I chose to be bedridden on the weekends, placing an empty garbage can beside my bed should I feel, erm, nauseous in the morning.

I opened my door on my birthday to find cards on the floor and the walls practically covered with sticky notes, most of them containing messages of love from Robby. Those have since been peeled off the walls, but it’s something I’ll never forget. The women’s cross country team serenaded me that night and couldn’t wait to see all of the clothes my mother and I had purchased while on our weekend escapade to Erie for birthday clothes shopping. I just recently took down the “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” banner Robby had hung from the ceiling; it remained an essential part of this room for nearly two semesters.

I’ve cried in this room, stressed in this room and felt the touch of friends in this room. It’s a white box painted with my memories and experiences. Because it is such a cozy little nook, I can’t help but feel extreme comfort every time I cross the threshold. After my intense set of summer internship interviews, I returned to campus, entered my room and promptly curled up in the fetal position on my bed.

I’ve spent the entirety of this semester exhausted, mentally, physically and emotionally. It took months for me to feel like myself walking around campus following the break up and my resignation from the cross country team. I could feel my former teammates’ stares as I went about living my life and knew my decision left them with a hot topic to discuss (not to mention the rumors they started). It took new friendships and relationships to help me get back on my feet.

At the store I worked in off campus all semester, I met some of the nicest people. I expanded my network, put myself out there and saw outgoing Emily show her face more often than she had in months. I worked over 20 hours a week, did my homework and still found time to hang out with friends, new and old. The weekends brought time for Emily to finally relax, though she often woke up with an empty garbage can beside her bed, just in case.

This year hasn’t been easy, but this room has always felt like a safe haven to me. I’m sad to let it go, even though I’m onto bigger and better things. Next year I’ll just have to spice up my room again to make it cozy. The best part about next year is the friends I’ll be living with whom I will be able to call my home.